THE BLOG

We Should All Be Doing Our Part to Ensure Our Younger Generation Is a Happy and Successful One

18/05/2015 10:48 BST | Updated 17/05/2016 10:59 BST

I have been extremely fortunate in life, and for that I am eternally grateful. I had a happy and stable upbringing and knew that I would always have the unwavering support from my family. I was the youngest of nine children and always felt I had someone to turn to in times of need.

It was my father who got me interested in the arts. He used to save money each week to take me to the cinema, and I used to count down the days until my next visit to the big screen. Without him realising, he'd opened up a whole new world to me; one in which I have been able to carve a successful career for myself and, subsequently, create a comfortable and happy life.

That said, growing up wasn't always plain sailing. We weren't a rich family. In fact, we were far from it. There were many occasions where we had to go without, so my parents could make sure we had food on the table and a roof over our head.

I always knew the value of hard work and it was drilled into me from a very young age that if you wanted to get somewhere in life you had to graft for it and treat people with respect. My father was a chauffeur and my mother a maid, and I witnessed them working all hours to make sure my siblings and I had the best childhood possible.

Sadly, others are not so lucky.

Too many young people are growing up with no support or guidance. With no-one to turn to, many of these young people are battling issues such as long-term unemployment, addiction, homelessness and depression, alone. Life can seem very bleak for these young people, and we need to help them before it is too late.

This is why I am a proud Ambassador for The Prince's Trust. I am a huge supporter of the youth charity's work because they believe every young person deserves a chance to succeed in life.

This is why I was thrilled to attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as an Ambassador for The Trust where I visited a garden which highlighted the importance of preserving our natural environment for future generations.

I believe we should all be doing our part to ensure our younger generation is a happy and successful one. After all, they are the future employers and leaders of this country and will be bringing up the next generation after them.

In my 15 years as an Ambassador, I have been lucky enough to visit some of these young people, and have always left feeling completely overwhelmed at the magnitude of some of their stories and in awe of their talent and potential.

Take Kerry Harkins, 29 from Evesham. Kerry had a harrowing childhood, facing horrifying violence and a total lack of stability. Things came to a head when Kerry was 16, and her mother sadly passed away. Afraid to remain at home, Kerry left and started a new life, but was soon drawn into an abusive relationship which made her fear for her children's safety.

Determined to create a better life for her children, Kerry enrolled on a childcare course, ended her relationship, and started a completely new life. She gained work experience at a day care nursery and became focused on starting her own children's nursery.

Knowing she needed help, Kerry approached The Prince's Trust and participated in the Enterprise programme, which helps unemployed young people start up in business. With Prince's Trust support, Kerry researched her market, secured start up funds and gained Ofsted accreditation.

Within a year of trading, Kerry's Evesham Day Nursery had 60 children on its books, employed eight staff and was Ofsted accredited. Confident and capable, Kerry has now moved into larger premises and hopes to grow her business by opening more nurseries in the future.

It is stories like Kerry's which remind me why I'm so proud to be an Ambassador for The Prince's Trust. The economic crisis hit young people the hardest, leaving them exposed to low self-esteem and unemployment. We cannot afford to leave them behind while the rest of the UK picks itself up and carries on.

Together, we can help more young people create the life they want.

The Prince's Trust needs your support to continue helping the most disadvantaged young people into work, training or education. For more information about how to donate, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk